a devotional. of sorts.

Preface: I don’t know why I seem to come off as spiritually depressed oftentimes. In all honesty, over the past year and half I’ve wondered if I struggle with bouts of clinical depression. I don’t think I do. I think I’m just an emotional wreck and God tends to get the brunt of it.

I wanted to come home and be on fire. I wanted to come home and love others like Jesus would. I wanted to come home and follow harder after Christ than ever before.

I’ve been home for one month. I’ve been on one job interview and applied for a few others. I have zero direction and clue about what to do next. And I wonder if I would feel this same way in this moment if things had gone a different route.

Remember that post I made a couple weeks back, where I said I don’t know what’s next but I’m waiting on Jesus? That’s much easier said than done.

I want to wait on and trust Jesus, but I am struggling. And to top it off, it hasn’t taken long for me to fall back into the comforts (read: distractions) of the Western world. Honestly, I’ve opened my Bible maybe three times. Tonight was one of them.

Somehow, despite my frustrations and lack of trust, Jesus was able to motivate me and capture my attention for some quality time. I was even moved to reach out and ask a few friends if they had specific prayer needs.

I had a bit of an agenda with God tonight. I knew I wanted to be verbally candid and read the Bible, as well as finish the introduction to A Hunger for God by John Piper.

There was no specific Biblical book that was calling out to me, but if I’m going to lament to God than what better to follow it up with than the book of Lamentations.

Depressing.

But I pushed on, and midway (3:19-28, to be exact) through I encountered this:

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young.

Let him sit along in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.

Despite the spiritual distance I feel at times and the emotionless meetings I continue to find myself having with God, I will not lose hope. Time and time again, his great hand rescues me out of this pit doom and gloom, this place of confusion and hopelessness.

And in realizing this, I take my first steps out of the spiritual valley of unmotivation. I embrace the town I’m in, the house that I will clean tomorrow and the empty hours that force me to deal with this spiritual loneliness.

Jesus, I don’t trust you like I wish I could. However, I do believe in your faithfulness, divinity, sovereignty and supremacy.

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i use windows movie maker.

I went to Nashville for the new year. On the drive back, it finally happened. I’ve missed the children since I’ve been gone, but now it’s different. I miss them so much it hurts my heart. You know that place in your chest that usually creates this deep, deep pain when a relationship ends? Dang, it’s that same part that’s killing me now. I don’t know when I’ll see their faces in person again. I hope someday in the next year or two. Initially, I was done done done with Uganda. I was going to leave and have the memories, end of story. Now, I want to plan a two or three week trip back to see the children.

Blah, blah, blah…

I am not a good movie producer. I like the fade in/fade out effect. And as a cinematographer, well, sometimes I jerk the camera around. But here’s a little closer look at some of the kids who have forever changed/healed/broke/loved me.

Oh, PS – Thanks to The New Frontiers for unknowingly letting me use “Mirrors” as the soundtrack to this video.

one week later.

I feel completely lost.  I miss the children so much, but I am rejoicing in being home.  I have no idea what the next step or the next chapter is.  I am stressed out and I feel like the culture shock is working in reverse, and it’s not so much a cultural thing as it is a personal thing.  Each day and every moment I ease back into the comfortable life I knew.  I am sickened by it and how easily I feel dependent on worldly things again as opposed to Jesus.

It’s a really weird and uncomfortable state of mind to be in.  But then I remember moments like this (see below) and I remember how just weeks ago Jesus was moving in me, how these children brought me all the happiness in the world, and how my heart opened up bigger than I ever allowed it to in the past.

Meet Gift…with a surprise appearance by Mercy.

signing off from Uganda.

This will be my last post from Uganda. Today is the last designated internet day, so next time I update I’ll probably be in the comfort of my dad’s living room (Dad – I accept the job offer, and I’ve put bells on every cow I’ve seen).

It’s weird to see this come to an end.

Rewind: September to December 2007

I was dating Matt and was led to believe we would eventually get married. Those three months produced some of the best and worst relational memories I have. His career really intimidated me and I created completely unwarranted insecurities about myself. When it ended, I was devastated. That devastation set the tone for my college graduation, Christmas, New Years’ and the better part of 2008.

Back to the present: September to December 2008

If Matt and I had continued dating, chances are I would probably be married or planning a wedding. I can with (almost) certainty say I would not have come to Uganda for three months. I’m sure I would have been content with Matt. But there’s no way you could get me to trade the time I’ve spent in Uganda for anything.

It’s mind-blowing how three months can change your life. I don’t know what passion God wants me to pursue next. Coming to Africa has been that passion for three years. What’s next?

I don’t know. I’m waiting on Jesus, and if I have to wait on Jesus until the day I die…I’m ok with that.

However, I do know a few things.

A group of nearly 30 Ugandan children can instill in you the confidence you thought you’d never regain.

It took being halfway around the world for me to really forgive my mom, and to realize that she loves me despite my awesomely awful moments, which can last for months on end.

Jesus had to take me away from everything to get me to trust Him with my heart again. Next time it breaks, I will do my best to know that yes, it is Jesus’ will, and yes, His love is more than enough.

I can pee in a pit latrine and take a bath out of a bucket for three months if necessary.

My friends love me, immensely. My church loves me, immensely. My family loves me, immensely. I have been blessed with an insanely great support system. None of you realize how wonderful it was to hear your voices, receive your comments and emails and open your packages. Thank you, one day I’ll find a way to repay you.

Beans and rice cannot sustain me for three months, but Auntie makes the most amazing eggs.  And a rolex is all I need for lunch.

I can barter, decently. For instance, I got a boda-boda to the post office today for half what the driver told me at first.

If the adoption process were easier, I would seriously consider taking some of these children home. Seriously.

For the first time in a year, I’m looking forward to going somewhere, back to Bolivar to live with my dad. I moved to Nashville heartbroken. And coming to Uganda came with a lot of anxiety, which I never handle well (and that explains why I hate roller coasters).

This last week has flown by. And while I am looking forward to being in the States, my heart aches to know that in a week, when I’m tired of the silence, I’ll want nothing more than to hear the cries of Frida, Nisha and Gift.

If you ever plan on traveling to a third-world country for an extended period of time, take what you think you’ll end up spending and multiply it by three. That should be enough.

I’ve learned so much about myself, and I’m incredibly thankful for who these children and this place forced me to become.

Stay tuned. Once I get home, I’ll be uploading some photos and making some vlogs with the footage from my time here.

I’ll see you soon.

Nkwagalagwe.

a note about packages.

To everyone who sent me a package.  Thank you so, so much.  I love you.

To Kira, Nashville friends and Theresa…I received your packages.  Thank you for being so supportive.  I love you.

To Jeanette, Sherri and the Ascension youth, and Nancy… I did not receive your packages.  I love you for being so supportive.  I went to the post office today hoping any last minute ones I would receive.  No such luck.  Maybe you’ll get them returned, I don’t know.  From the bottom of my heart…I’m so sorry.  I know a lot of  care was put into them and it’s not cheap to ship things to Uganda.  Again, I’m sorry…I love you for trying.

please save me the classifieds.

Side note: Before I start into the real entry, I’ll be home in less than a week (weird) and I’ll be unemployed. I’m intending to remain as such until the new year to decompress and readjust. Anyways, I’m planning on applying to be a nanny and at the Christian Children’s Home of Ohio in Wooster. However, I graduated a year ago with a B.S. in Public Relations (minored in business), and I spent the better part of this year being a receptionist at Haber Corporation (a music business management company in Nashville). If you know of any jobs (preferably more than minimum wage) that I might have a shot at, please email me (watson.colleen@gmail.com). And to my friends in Nashville, I’m going to be based out of Ohio for a while…so please don’t tell me about the file clerk position that has opened up at Haber.

Start real entry now.

Over the past week, I have become increasingly successful at putting seven little boys and girls, ages two to six, down for a nap somewhat simultaneously. Last Friday was by far the most successful day. It helped that Sandra had miraculously made it to her bed and fell asleep on her own and Mercy is sick with malaria.

Poor Mercy has been sick like a couple of times in the very recent past. Last time, I took a wet t-shirt and placed it around her forehead and neck. Then we just laid on the couch and cuddled. Why? Because that’s what I liked when I was small and sick. And when I’m feverish even now, there’s nothing I want more than for my mom or dad to come and put a wet washrag on my head.

It’s really unfair that these children don’t have parents in the sense that I know parents. That statement goes beyond just the boundaries of Uganda and Africa. The same problem exists in the United States. A lot of the children’s parents have died. Those children often have other guardians who are too poor to care properly for them. Some of the children still have parents, but like the guardians, they are too poor to care for the children.

One time I scolded a handful of children for losing their toothbrushes and being careless with their belongings. Ruthie and Lilian, two of the sweetest girls here, were among that group. They both began crying. Ruthie, unlike Lilian, went straight to her bedroom and curled up on her bed and continued crying. I went in about 15 minutes later and Ruthie was still lying on her bed, whimpering. I felt absolutely awful and did my best to console her. Not because I scolded the children, they needed it; but because this is Ruthie’s life. She doesn’t have a mother who, after a nasty fight, picks her up at school for lunch or leaves a dinosaur-shaped jug of juice outside her bedroom door. She doesn’t have a mother who tucks her in with a kiss and lullaby at night. She isn’t kissed, and she often kneels to those older than her. This isn’t summer camp for Ruthie. She will continue to share a relatively small room with eight to 10 other girls on three-tiered bunk beds, with blankets that still stink of urine (even after multiple washings) from the numerous times Frida and Nisha have wet the beds. She will eat posho (maize flour, similar to really thick Cream of Wheat) and beans for almost every meal. She will bathe out of a bucket and pee in a pit latrine. She will most likely forever hand-wash her clothing, because it seems that Uganda does not know the luxury of washing machines.

However, Ruthie does have one amazing thing going for her. Despite her circumstances and the constant chores of fetching water, mopping the floors and washing the dishes, she has found how to rise above it. The children received their school reports yesterday. Ruthie, a primary one student, was second in her class of 63. The girl is brilliant. All of the primary one children (Ruthie, Lilian, Bob and Moses) performed extremely well.

My prayer is one of thanksgiving for the children I’ve met like Ruthie, but my prayer is also looking ahead to the future. I pray there will always be someone around to encourage the children’s education. I pray Ruthie will continue to be at the top of her class and she will one day sleep in a room by herself and bathe under a warm shower. I pray someone will say “nkwagalagwe” to her at least once a day. I pray one day, after receiving her university degree and marrying a man who will treat her with dignity and respect, Ruthie will become a mother to a little girl just as wonderful and beautiful as she is. And I pray that Ruthie will tuck that little girl into bed every night with a kiss on the forehead and a soft lullaby.

single digit midget.

I had prepared a really nice post about Ruthie and stored it on my iPod.  However, the computer is recognizing my iPod connection so you don’t get the post.

Something is going outside and there are a lot of police and a lot of people cheering.  Don’t tell Grandma.  I really don’t know what’s going on and if it were dark I’d be worried.  The people at the internet cafe are laughing, so I don’t think it’s bad.

I have under 10 days left, I’m attempting to mentally prepare myself for the snow.  It’s not working out so well.

I love you and I miss you, but I typed an entry before I came here to save time and that didn’t work out so this is all you get.